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How to Check Your Steak’s Temperature Without a Thermometer

The movie is a piece of cinema, the novel is a piece of literature, and the perfectly cooked steak is a piece of beauty. When it comes to cooking steak, there is no second chance. One way to tell your steak doneness is by using a fancy schmancy meat thermometer. But just in case you don’t have one, or don’t want to poke a hole in your steak and let all the juicy juice escape, here’s the trick to check whether your steak is perfectly cooked or not – the touch test.

Before you get into the detail of the trick, there are a couple of things you need to know:

What are the degrees of doneness?

We all have a preference for how we want our steak to cook. Some people would love to eat steaks that are rare, but most people prefer medium rare or medium. Even though many of us think it is a disgrace but to some people, a medium-well or well-done steak is their favorite. Simply put, there are 5 degrees of doneness: rare, medium rare, medium, medium-well, and well-done.  

What are the colors of doneness?

For a rare steak, you will look at a cool red in the center. For a medium rare steak, the color will be a warm red in the center while surrounded with a tart pink. With medium steak, the color will be a warm pink throughout the whole steak. For a medium well steak, you will see a warm brown color on the outer of the steak while there is still a tiny bit of pink in the center. And lastly, a well-done steak will have a hot brown throughout the whole steak.  

What is the touch test?

The touch test is a method that is used to tell the doneness of a steak. While the method’s origin is uncertain but many chefs and cooks in the world have been applying this method and it’s proven to be the best way to judge the degree of doneness. Here is the rundown of the touch test: for each level of doneness, on one hand, you’ll touch your thumb to your finger. Using the other hand, touch the flesh at the base of your thumb. Once you can feel that part, that’s how a steak would feel if you touch it with your finger. Depends on the doneness, you will touch different fingers to your thumb.

For a rare steak, the center of meat will feel slightly firm. So bring your thumb to your pointer finger, and touch the fleshy part of your palm. You will feel a slight firmness and that is exactly the firmness that indicates your steak is rare

For a medium rare steak, bring your thumb to your middle finger, and again, touch the flesh at the base of your thumb. You will feel it a little bit less squishy, and that indicates a medium rare steak.

For medium, touch ring finger to thumb. If you feel your flesh tenses up, that is how a medium steak should feel like.

For medium-well, touch your little pinkie to your thumb. Your flesh now will feel pretty flexed and tough. That is exactly how your medium-well will feel like.  

For a well-done steak, skip all the touch test and cook your steak from 5 to 6 minutes each side. Then volla, you will have a well-done steak without poking the meat.  

How to master the touch test?

What can I say except practice, practice and practice? And don’t forget to keep your hand relaxed when doing this touch test for the correct indication.